If your child has Special Educational Needs, you’ll need to go through the process of statementing to get the proper provision for them in school. But what is statementing, and how do you go about it?
Green Paper: All change please
The world of SEN and statementing is facing the biggest shake-up in 30 years: proposals outlined in the recent Green Paper on SEN will, the Government says, simplify procedures and give parents more control over the statementing process. However the reforms’ aims could conflict: two of the problems to be addressed are parents having to battle to get the support their child needs; an Ofsted’s belief that too many children are identified as SEN.
What is a Statement?
A Statement is a legally binding document that describes a child’s special educational needs, what sort of provision must be made by schools and LEAs in meeting those needs and where it should happen. A LEA school or setting cannot ignore the contents of the Statement; the child is entitled to the provision that is described.
You may realise that your child or children need assistance in school that is additional to or different from those provided for children who don’t have SEN. The signs that children need such help are that, despite receiving extra support, they make little progress, show signs of difficulty in developing literacy or mathematics skills, continue to work at levels significantly below those expected for peers of a similar age or have sensory, physical, or speech, language and communication needs. One in 10 of Tamba members have children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) according an educational report published by the charity last year. Getting extra help for these children in schools should be a simple process but it can be a struggle due to the restrictions of local authority funding.
How do I request a Statement?
There are two stages: first, the LEA has to make a statutory assessment, and then it decides whether to make a Statement – against which you can appeal if you want to contest the provisions it lays down.
You can make a request for a statutory assessment to the LEA at any time, independently of the school, if you consider that one or more of your children have special educational needs, and the school is unable to provide the necessary level of help without additional funding. It is in the children’s best interests if the school work with you on any request for a statutory assessment. Requests should always be made in writing and all parties should keep copies of all correspondence. Schools must consult with you before requesting a statutory assessment. On receipt of a request the LEA must contact you to find out more about your concerns.
If the LEA refuses to carry out a statutory assessment they explain why, and also set out the provision that they consider would meet your child or children’s needs within 6 weeks of the request being made. If the LEA agrees to undertake a Statutory Assessment they should work with you, the school and health and social services agencies and request written advice on all the child’s needs. You are entitled to provide your own reports from experts as part of the statutory assessment procedure. You are allowed to be present at any assessment or interview. The LEA must also seek the views of any children involved, as part of the statutory assessment procedure – if the child is too young, then all parties must agree on how the child’s views are heard.
The statutory assessment process ends when the LEA decides whether or not they will make a Statement.
The LEA’s decision.
The LEA must decide whether or not to produce a Statement of Special Educational Needs it must inform you of the reasons for this within two weeks. If it says no, it must inform you of the reasons for this and must make sure that you know what provision is available within the child’s school to meet your child’s special educational needs.
If the LEA decides to produce a Statement they must first draft a Proposed Statement. This will include a description of your child’s needs and the provision to meet these needs.
If you are informed that the LEA will not produce a Statement, the LEA must also inform you of your right to appeal to the SEND Tribunal, the time limits for this appeal and the availability of parent partnership and disagreement resolution services.
You may also be able to appeal if you do not agree with aspects of the Statement. If you do turn to the Tribunal, you can get help fromsupport groups and charities. If you are entitled to Legal Help the Citizens Advice Bureau will be able to give names of experienced solicitors who participate in the scheme.
Further Assistance: SEN and Statementing
- National Autistic Society, National Deaf Children’s Society, AFASIC, SCOPE, Dyslexia Action
- Education Advocacy
- IPSEA (Independent Panel for Special Educational Advice)
- The Children’s Legal Centre
- SOS!SEN (the independent helpline for Special Education Needs)
- Anthony Collins Solicitors
- MGLaw Solicitors
- Douglas Silas Solicitors
- Langley Wellington Solicitors
- Advocacy Services and Special Education training (ASSET)
- AM Phillips
Help and Info: Multiples with Special Needs
Tamba has a Support Volunteer for families where one or more children from a multiple birth have special needs. Co-ordinated by Karoline Jordan, you can make contact via the Tamba office on 01483 304442 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Book Talk: Towards a Positive Future
See http://www.wordswell.co.uk/conference/ for information on a two day conference for professionals and parents of children with special educational needs on 14/15 October 2011 at the Arlington Arts Centre, Newbury, Berkshire when the new book edited by Janet O’Keefe will be launched featuring stories, ideas and inspiration from children with special eduicational needs, their families and professionals.